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The Art of Dating: Part I
by Kamali Minter
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March 8, 2019

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The Art of Dating: Part I

The art of cultivating connection, intentional interaction, and dating overall is one we are excited to discuss! Our friends over at BLK were excited to partner with us around this topic and amplify the conversation around The Art of Dating.

There used to be a stigma about searching for love online, but in this digital age where so many of our social interactions are now centered on the web, not only has looking for a love connection online become normal but the right tools are literally at our fingertips.

As a tantric coach specializing in self-acceptance, self love, and bringing all of one’s self into a relationship, I applaud any avenue to true, authentic love.  

The rise of online dating is pointing to two important things:

-Humans are increasingly living their lives on screens and devices.
-Humans are still hungry for intimate connection and love.

Thing one makes thing two hard to do well!

Courtesy of @dannyellxo

There are several benefits to online dating. It’s convenient; you can do it any time of the night or day. You have access to a larger pool of potential matches and can sort out the ones that may be a waste of time more quickly. You get to control how much you share about yourself and what kinds of interactions you will respond to. You can have multiple connections going at once; if one doesn’t work, there are other people waiting in your queue…The list goes on.

But there are also several drawbacks like dishonesty, ghosting, unwanted sexual propositions, the distraction of too many choices, comparing and competition, chasing fantasies instead of building connections with real people…This list also goes on.

Many of us dive into online dating looking for a potential love match…that person who closely fits our vision of “the one” and who feels the same way about us. And there’s always that friend, or that friend of a friend, who found their life partner online, so why couldn’t that be us, right?

But this enthusiasm about finding “the one” can quickly turn into frustration, disappointment, and despair when some matches lead to someone looking for a hookup or avoiding anything too serious, and others may disappear or discontinue the connection at some point despite it seemingly “going so well.” This can turn a hopeful romantic into a strategic realist looking for the best strategies to win in the online dating field.

In the world of online dating, where first impressions can be the difference between a match and a pass, it’s too easy for fantasy to ruin the potential for a real connection.

Fantasy about who we are, fantasy about who people we are attracted to are, and fantasy about how relationships work. It’s not that fantasy is bad. It has a place in helping us create a vision for our lives. But love, intimacy, and long-term commitment cannot be built on top of a foundation of fantasy.

At some point, we need to learn how to create and maintain quality connections.

Courtesy of Jes Perez
Courtesy of Jes Perez

Intimacy and vulnerability can only grow between two people willing to let themselves be seen…the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. This requires emotional maturity, self-reflection, and courage.

How can one navigate the waters of online dating while keeping their self-esteem, vision for a relationship, and heart intact? This is what I set out to explore.

My own personal online dating experience was relatively short-lived and left a bad taste in my mouth. I ended up meeting my current husband the old-fashioned way….at a Tantra Retreat. 😉

So, I spoke with several women in my community, who had much more extensive online dating histories, to help me fill out what I know about intimacy and relationship with their personal experiences in the online dating world.

And what I discovered is that online dating is really just an extension of dating in the material world. It’s fraught with the same challenges, illusions, delusions, and dreams that come with human relating…but on steroids!

The ways in which we need to care for ourselves while online dating are pretty much the same things we must learn to create and sustain any healthy intimate connections through authenticity, healthy boundaries, vulnerability, compassion, emotional and erotic intelligence, and communication skills.

 

Photographer: Christian Adkins
Photographer: Christian Adkins

The more that we know about ourselves, our needs, our boundaries, our wounds, our strengths, and our weaknesses, and we love and accept all those parts, the more likely it is that we will attract someone to us who will love all our parts as well, not just the ideal ones.

You have natural hair, use horrible grammar, love salsa dancing, and read trashy magazines for fun? Someone will love that.

You hate to shave, occasionally eat cereal for dinner, and have a soft spot for cat videos? Someone will love that.

The more that we get clear about our unique desires, fears, and quirks, and wear them proudly, the more we stand out from the pack and help the right person find us.

“If you choose online dating, I feel like you have to change your perspective. So, you begin to attract people who want to touch the hem of your garment. You don’t want to be chasing after this group of people that can’t even notice you because the pool is too thick,” says Ailia…“So, I started making a list of all the things I wanted to do, whether I was with someone or not with someone. All that pampery, fun stuff that I say I want to do with a person. I’m just doing them now.

This is an exercise I often give to my clients: create a list of things you love, things that light you up and make you feel good. You enjoy walks on the beach? Art museums? Dancing? The color yellow? Fresh flowers? Great, write it down!

This is your “love list.”’ Pick one thing from this list to give to yourself each week. Take yourself on a date each week and use your “love list” for inspiration.

This not only helps us get clear about how to create our own joy but creates a vibration in our beings of someone who is well-loved which helps attract more of it into our lives.

It can be hard to prioritize ourselves in this way, but if we aren’t willing to give these things to ourselves, can we really expect someone else to?

Healthy boundaries are another way we can take good care of ourselves.

Courtesy of @lola.akw
Courtesy of @lola.akw

This can be hard if we are afraid of coming off as cold or arrogant, but getting clear about what kind of behavior is NOT ok with us and learning how to stand in our worth and power, even in the face of strong chemistry, is a must for creating a sense of emotional safety for ourselves.

”People can be real vulgar when you are not face to face. They don’t have the accountability, because we’re not side by side,” shares Chrysta.

Rayna shares, “I had rules about how I interacted: one is that I never initiated…If you like me and we match, reach out. I don’t need someone who is lazy…As soon as I got a flag for anything, I stopped communicating with them…If we just matched and you want to meet up tonight, NO… that feels like a hook-up. If people made too many comments on my body, NO… they were too focused on the physical.”

Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries in any relationship is hard, but it becomes even harder when we are seeking approval, or we are caught up in chemistry and fantasy.

Taking care of yourself, establishing healthy boundaries, and looking within to discover what you desire in a partner to complement your happiness are great first steps when venturing into the realm of making connections online that can thrive and sustain offline. Online dating is a valuable vehicle to forming meaningful, vulnerable connection and intimacy when approached with intentionality and self-awareness.  

Take these methods with you and get started today!

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